Intuitive Machines All Set With its Nova-C Lunar Lander

By Sophia Francise

August 17, 2023

Intuitive Machines, a Houston-based company and one of several US firms building private lunar landers says its 3-meter-tall Nova-C lander is finally ready to take to the skies in September.

“Our Nova-C lander is completely built,” said Steve Altemus, co-founder, and chief executive of Intuitive Machines, in an earnings call on Monday. “We will deliver a lunar lander ready to go in September.”

Altemus said that the building of their Nova-C lander had been successful. In order to emphasize their preparedness, Altemus declared that they would be ready to launch a working lunar lander in September.[1]

This statement highlighted the Houston-based company’s active role in advancing lunar exploration and was a critical turning point in its history.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which currently claims the highest dependability for launches yearly, will carry the Nova-C. 

Notably, the Falcon 9 is an excellent contender for quick and effective deployment, having performed over 50 successful launches this year alone.

Competition for NASA Funding

In the contest for NASA-funded missions aiming at delivering scientific research and diverse payloads to the moon’s surface, the company is up against other American businesses, including Astrobotic and Firefly.

Intuitive Machines and Astrobotic won the first NASA “Commercial Lunar Payload Services” contracts in May 2019. However, the development of their lunar landers is taking around two years longer than expected for each of these businesses.

A flurry of lunar lander missions is about to launch in the next weeks and months, kicking off a time of increased lunar activity.

Among these endeavors, Russia’s Luna-25 has recently achieved a significant milestone, entering lunar orbit on August 15 and returning to lunar exploration after nearly five decades. 

On the other hand, this growing lunar presence is aided by India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander, which started orbiting the moon in early August.

These missions have one common goal: they are all headed for the lunar south pole. Due to the area’s alleged abundance of ice water, it has attracted much attention and will likely be the focus of upcoming lunar expeditions.

Intuitive Machines is on track to set a massive record by being the first American private firm to safely land a spacecraft on the moon.


The company is eyeing a specific timeframe, a six-day window commencing on November 15, to launch its IM-1 lunar lander mission utilizing a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Intuitive Machines is one of three companies, including Astrobotic and OrbitBeyond (the latter later withdrew from the program), with a NASA contract to provide critical payloads to the lunar surface as part of the “Commercial Lunar Payload Services” effort.


  1. Eric Berger, ‘Intuitive Machines says it is ready to fly to the Moon’, Ars Technica, 15 August 2023,[]